Singapore’s first MOE teacher detained under ISA for terrorism

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singapore's first moe teacher detained under isa for terrorism

A 38-year-old teacher with the Ministry of Education (MOE) who became interested in the Israel-Palestine issue and planned to fly to Palestine to engage in armed action was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Mohamed Khairul Riduan Mohamed Sarip operated alone, and there are no signs that he intended to conduct attacks in Singapore, the Internal Security Department (ISD) stated in a press release on Wednesday (Jan 11).

Khairul is the second Singaporean to be held under the ISA for planning to commit armed violence due to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The first suspect, Amirull Ali, was detained in February 2021 for preparing a knife attack on Jews at a Waterloo Street synagogue.

ISD said that Khairul was prepared to fly to Gaza under the pretense of humanitarian help to join HAMAS and its military wing in their struggle against Israel.

He was detained in October of 2017 and handed a detention order under the ISA on November 30, 2017.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam told reporters on Wednesday that Khairul’s activities were “extremely severe” and that, as far as the authorities are aware, there is no indication that he attempted to influence his students.

Mr. Shanmugam noted that Khairul is the first educator and government employee to be imprisoned for terrorism-related offenses.

ISD stated that in addition to his advocacy for armed violence, Khairul embraces segregationist and fundamentalist religious ideas.

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He attempted, without success, to persuade his family members and children to adopt these ideas by uploading recordings of extreme foreign preacher Zakir Naik’s lectures, in which he declared that Muslims should not wish Christians “Merry Christmas.” Additionally, Khairul prohibited his children from celebrating birthdays.

Khairul also saw videos by Naik and Ahmed Deedat, an additional extremist foreign preacher. These movies highlighted the notion of armed jihad in defense of Islam and strengthened Khairul’s conviction that the Palestinians require military defense.

Since 2014, Naik has been denied entry to Singapore due to his radical and segregationist beliefs.

In 2012, Khairul originally pondered traveling to Gaza after seeing a Facebook post titled Panggilan Jihad! (Call to Jihad!) that solicited volunteers for a humanitarian expedition to Gaza.

HAMAS, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, and its military arm Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (AQB) were ready for these volunteers, according to the poster.

According to ISD, Khairul felt obligated to fly to Gaza whenever the war worsened, such as in 2014 and 2021.

Due to travel constraints, he failed to follow through on these instances as well. Israel closed its borders with Gaza in 2014 due to an intensification in the conflict, while COVID-19 limitations went into force in 2021.

Khairul intended to establish contact with HAMAS and AQB while entering Gaza, according to ISD.

He investigated travel routes and planes to Gaza and consulted with foreigners residing in or intending to visit Gaza for guidance. Khairul intended to fly there under the pretence of delivering humanitarian supplies to evade security surveillance.

He did significant study on HAMAS and AQB, including a review of materials on tactics and operations. He felt they were the rightful protectors of the Palestinians and that their violent deeds against the Israel Defense Forces were permissible under Islamic law.

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